Booking your Trip, how to get the best Deal

The successful bargain hunter begins his strategy months in advance. Visit your local travel agent, pick up the brochures and ask their advice. They are professionals and deal with this business every day. Be honest with them on what you wish to spend, where you’d like to go etc. They can guide you in your initial first steps. If you are a travel newbie you may wish to book your entire trip thru them, right down to the tours, hotel, rental cars and flight. For that convenience you will pay what the going rate is. They will provide you with a wonderful vacation experience and their expertise and guidance does deserve to be compensated. If you are a bit more adventurous, and cost is a concern, or if you like to stretch those dollars to the max read on for a few tips.

Research: This is the key to your quest. I find the best resource to be the Internet. Find your favorite search engine, type in a few keywords and start your journey. First determine which time of year you want to travel. This is key. Many areas have peak travel season times, and the off peak seasons offer great discounts however there is a reason tourists don’t go there in those times.

In the Caribbean the main concern is Hurricane Season. It generally runs from the end of May till November. The good news about Hurricanes is that the weather service is really good about spotting them, predicting paths and issuing warnings. If they note one before your trip that will affect your travel plans you can cancel or go somewhere else. If you are on an island and a Hurricane is eminent most islands put a priority on getting the tourists away safely. DO NOT STAY ON AN ISLAND WHICH IS ABOUT TO BE STRUCK BY A HURRICANE. It is not an adventure, it is terrifying, dangerous and the locals will be busy taking care of themselves and their families. After the hurricane there may be no power, roads will be blocked, no drinking water, no air conditioning, poor medical care, and may be weeks before you will be able to leave.

The trade winds usually keep the heat and humidity at a bearable level. In the summertime the Islands are usually more comfortable then the Midwest United States. Summer is the rainy season, however the bonus to that is this is when the tropical flowers bloom at their best! You will probably be able to book a cruise or reserve a room at one of the all-inclusive resorts for a fraction of the Peak Season rates.

Resorts and Hotels for Less: The off season is a perfect time to get a wonderful bargain. The hotels rates drop dramatically. When you call to book your room don’t be shy to ask for a better deal. At this time of year you hold the bargaining chip. They need to fill the empty rooms, you need a room and there are many hotels available. Get the lowest price they have, get a confirmation number and a name and write it down. Then a very good technique is ask if any of their luxury suites are available and if you can upgrade. Many of the hotels luxury suites in the summer remain empty. If you are nice and personable on the phone they may upgrade you to the penthouse for the price of the regular room. If this happens please remember to tip the maid well. You will be remembered by the staff and when you call next year in peak season they may get you the penthouse for the same price you paid in low season.

Jamaica offers a unique program for travelers yearning to get our and about and soak up local culture.  It is managed by the Jamaica Tourist Board and is called “Insiders Jamaica.”  It combines a stay of five nights or longer at an intimate inn or hotel, with the freedom to experience Jamaica’s diverse attractions.  More than 40 of Jamaica’s finest small properties have joined, ranging from Mountain Hideaways and gracious old estates to family run beachside inns and tropical villas.   Each has its own distinctive character, but all dedicated to offering guests a high degree of personal service and helpful tips on exploring the “real Jamaica.”   Details can be found at

Ambience, location and price are just a few of the advantages these smaller properties extend to their guests.  Choose the spot that is right for you.  Visitors have several other opportunities to discover the countries cultural and ecological diversity.   Vacation packages offering alternatives to traditional vacations have been put in place to accommodate these trends.

Cruise Bargains Cruises for Less:     Again, the key here is to research well in advance.  The internet offers many sites to comparison shop.  Many sites offer files where you can view the rooms in full 360 degree pics.  You can view the decks, the pools, the dining rooms, and get a feel of the cruise ship.   Decide what type of cruise will match your personality and pocketbook.

The larger ships are glamorous, have wonderful shows, fantastic food and amenities like spas, skating rinks, movie theaters and casinos.   Due to their size they may not be able to dock at certain islands or you may need to take a tender ship which they provide.

The smaller vessels are not quite as glitzy but they make up for that with the personal touch.  The staff will be on a first name basis with you and you’ll see your cruise mates on a regular basis.     The smaller ships are able to get into many of the smaller Islands the large ships can’t visit.

Shop for the lowest fares well in advance.  Many cruise lines offer substantial discounts if you book months in advance.   If time and itinerary are not a problem and you are fairly flexible a really  fun and low cost option is the last minute deals.  Like the hotels the cruise ships do not make a profit if their rooms are not filled.  Several sites on the internet offer screaming deals to those able to book a trip a few weeks in advance.   Again you need to be flexible.  It may not be the prime cabin with the balcony.   Generally the cruise lines upgrade the people who book well in advance.  This leaves a few empty cabins which they then offer at screaming deals.

If you are arranging a trip for a large group contact the cruise line.  Tell them the size of your group and ask for their best deal.  They usually can offer a low price and the added bonus being that the organizer of the group travels for free.  The organizer coordinates the group and all in the group must pay in advance for this option.  But your time and effort to do all of this is valuable, and a free cruise is wonderful compensation for this.

Health Professionals:     Many elderly and handicapped people still love to travel and find this to be very therapeutic.   Health professionals can offer to travel with these persons and care for them in exchange for a free cruise.   I know of many nurses who do this on a regular basis and have traveled the world.  This is usually a contract arrangement either thru a nursing agency or private contract between the parties.

Airline Tickets:  Again shop well in advance.  The internet offers many sites with booking online.  The airlines offer there tickets online at lower fares.     One word of warning however with those sites offering extremely low fares.   The flight may be very inconvenient for you time wise.   I have seen flights from Miami to Jamaica with a layover in Kansas city which can take over 14 hours for a travel day.  The fare will be really low however it is exhausting.   And if the flight is overbooked and if no one takes the voluntary bump, the persons holding tickets bought on the ultra-discount service sites may be the one they bump.    A smart tactic if this happens to you is volunteer for the bump.  They usually compensate you with a free flight for another trip or cash.   When they ask for volunteers just ask nicely what the terms are. Then don’t be shy.  Tell them you’ll take the bump along with their terms but throw on something else, say a meal voucher . You may be surprised.  They would much rather give great terms to a volunteer than to face a not so jovial forced bump customer.

The Cheapest Flights go to the swift and sleepless online!

At one minute after midnight on Tuesday (12:01 am Wednesday) you can get an unbelievable deal online. Airline fare wars are most often started by the weakest competitor over the weekend. By Monday, many of the majors match the fares. Then the fare war starts with an even lower fare offered by one of them on Monday. By Tuesday, the fare has been matched, and then, at 12:01 Wednesday, any of those fares that have been reserved but not purchased within 24 hours come back into the inventory — briefly — and that’s when the best deals come available online.

Trip Insurance:  Do I REALLY need it?

Get travel insurance from CSA Travel ProtectionYes you do…  It’s low cost and you will kick yourself if you don’t have it and something happens.   Click here for more information.  At Carigem we recommend CSA, they have proven time and time again to be rated A+.    Click here to get your low cost quote now.

The purpose of travel insurance is to provide protection for travelers against the unique risks associated with travel, before trip departure and during the trip itself. Many of these risks, such as trip interruption, are not generally covered by any other insurance available to travelers.

Although travelers probably don’t want to think about it, the plain fact is that travel involves some unique risks. In fact, travelers would be surprised by some of the things that could happen.